Brubeck, Dave, Sgt

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Last Rank
Last Primary MOS
439-Bandsman Saxophone
Last MOS Group
Army Band (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1942-1946, 439, 3rd Army
Service Years
1942 - 1946

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This Military Service Page was created/owned by Diane Short to remember Brubeck, Dave, Sgt.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Last Address
Norwalk CT

Date of Passing
Dec 06, 2012
Location of Interment
Umpawaug Cemetery - Redding, Connecticut
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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Honorably Discharged WW II

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 Unit Assignments
3rd Army
  1942-1946, 439, 3rd Army
 Colleges Attended 
  1938-1942, College of the Pacific
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Last Known Activity
Dave Brubeck, an American jazz legend and icon, is equally distinguished as a pianist and composer. He is known the world over as a consummate keyboard master. As a composer, Brubeck has written several large-scale works, including two ballets, a musical, an oratorio, four cantatas, a mass, works for jazz combo and orchestra, and numerous solo piano pieces.

Birth and childhood

David Warren Brubeck was born on December 6, 1920, in Concord, California. He was the youngest of three musical sons. Brubeck`s mother, who had studied piano in England, exposed him to music early in his life. Although she was able to nourish his two older brothers on classical music, she could never dissuade Dave from playing his own music and popular tunes. Brubeck enjoyed creating his own melodies, a talent he revealed when he was only four — and never learned to read sheet music.

 When Dave was 11, his family moved to a ranch in the foothills of the Sierras near Ione, California. He soon loved life on the ranch and relished its daily chores. In his early youth, Dave did not visualize becoming a musician professionally; he still enjoyed playing the piano, but he wanted to follow his father’s career as a cowboy and rancher.

Nevertheless, by age 15, Dave was performing jazz professionally. His schedule amounted to weekend dances in Ione and surrounding towns — from eight at night until four in the morning.

College days and military service

Brubeck left the ranch at 18 to attend the College of the Pacific in Stockton, California. He planned to become a veterinarian and fulfill his dream of returning to the ranch. It became apparent in Brubeck`s freshman year, however, that veterinary courses did not suit him well. Following his first year, Brubeck switched to a music major. He progressed through the curriculum on natural talent — still not able to read sheet music when he graduated.

 Brubeck graduated with his music degree in 1942, the first full year of America`s involvement in World War II. He was quickly drafted into the Army. Brubeck held convictions against fighting in the war, but did not have to give them up: He served two years in a camp band in southern California. Eventually, however, Brubeck was transferred to Europe in 1944. He was due to be rotated to the front, but an army officer who liked jazz intervened and covertly kept Brubeck busy entertaining troops throughout Europe, even troops on the front lines. Brubeck spent nearly four years in the army.

Postwar college and early career

Following his service, Brubeck enrolled at Mills College in the foothills of Oakland, California, and studied under composer Darius Milhaud. The relationship with Milhaud developed, with fellow students, into the experimental Jazz Workshop Ensemble. The association was to go on and record as the Dave Brubeck Octet in 1949.

In 1958, Brubeck collaborated with fellow musicians Joe Morello, Eugene Wright, and Paul Desmond, to form the Dave Brubeck Quartet, and quickly achieved great popular success. Brubeck, intrigued by time signatures, experimented with different ones to produce such works as “Blue Rondo a la Turk” in 9/8 time. "Blue Rondo A La Turk" is a play on Mozart`s "Rondo alla Turca," and the 9/8 is the time signature of traditional Turkish music. The famous “Take Five” is in 5/4 time, "Pick Up Sticks" in 6/4, and "Unsquare Dance" in 7/4.

The group went on to perform and record through 1967. In 1954, just three years following the quartet`s founding, Brubeck became the first jazz musician featured on the cover of Time magazine. The quartet`s magnum opus, the innovative "Time Out," released in 1959, spawned not only the first million-selling jazz record, but opened the way for other artists, also experimenting in nontraditional time signatures, to invest in the “jazz scene."

Later career

Brubeck left the quartet in 1967 to develop his composing skills. He continued to build upon his role as a jazz-inspired composer, creating ballets, scores, oratorios, cantatas, symphonic pieces, classical compositions, sacramental compositions (including a contemporary mass), and Native American-inspired compositions.

Brubeck collaborated in a quartet with his sons, Dan, Darius, and Chris, all jazz artists in their own right. Brubeck performed twice at the White House, in 1964 and 1981. He has frequently appeared at numerous jazz events, including the Newport and Monterey jazz festivals. Brubeck turned 85 in December 2005.

Honors and awards

Since the breakup of the Classic Quartet, Dave Brubeck has received the following honors and awards:

performances for four presidents — Kennedy, Johnson, Reagan, and Clinton,
Down Beat Hall of Fame,
San Francisco Jazz Festival Laureate,
appearance at the Reagan-Gorbachev Moscow Summit in 1988,
Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (1996),
National Medal of the Arts (1995),
composition for Pope John Paul II`s visit to San Francisco in 1987,
BMI Jazz Pioneer Award,
1988 American Eagle Award presented by the National Music Council,
six honorary doctorate degrees,
Duke Ellington Fellow at Yale University,
honorary doctorate degree from Duisberg University, the first awarded to an American jazz musician from a German university, and NEA Jazz Master (1999).

Other Comments:
How Dave Brubeck Used His Talents to Fight for Integration

As a white jazz musician in a segregated country, he fought for his black bassist.

The Internet is abuzz with videos of Dave Brubeck, the jazz pianist and composer who died today, a day short of his 92nd birthday.

His most famous piece, "Take Five," with its cascading melody and jaunty 5/4 time signature, became the first jazz record to sell a million copies, and has served as an introduction to the art form for millions of young Americans. In 1954, he became the first modern jazz musician -- and second overall, after Louis Armstrong -- to appear on the cover of Time magazine: "The joints are really flipping," it read.

Despite his talents, it was at times tempting to view this success through a racial lens. Brubeck was white; most of his peers were black. Black musicians -- to say nothing of black patrons -- were consistently spurned by the media, concert venues, and the recording industry, often living from gig to gig while their white colleagues enjoyed commercial acceptance.

But Brubeck was as aware as anyone of the advantages afforded to a white musician, and, like Benny Goodman before him -- another white musician at the helm of an integrated band -- he used them to fight for civil rights. He led his group through the South in the tumultuous years between the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Freedom Riders, refusing to compromise the group's identity for the prejudice of Jim Crow.

It was a theme of his career. When he served in the U.S. Army during World War II, his Wolfpack Band was the only integrated jazz group in the Armed Forces.

Like Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington, Brubeck was sent around the world on the State Department Jazz Tours, whose purpose was in part to counter the idea, widespread in the Third World and happily reinforced by the USSR, that the United States was a land of institutionalized racial prejudice.

Like Diz and Duke, he agreed to do so for the love of jazz, but the irony did not escape him: as black musicians were sent to spread American racial goodwill abroad, federal troops were necessary to desegregate Little Rock High. He and his wife Iola channeled those contradictions in their musical, The Real Ambassadors, whose only performance -- at Monterrey in 1962, featuring Louis Armstrong -- was, sadly, not filmed.

In the late 50s, riding the success of "Take Five," the Dave Brubeck Quartet was, alongside the Modern Jazz Quartet, the most famous jazz group in the country. It was also, thanks to the introduction of bassist Gene Wright, who is black, easily the best-known integrated act. (Wright is pictured above, with Brubeck, Joe Morello and Paul Desmond.) Yet despite their fame, the group was turned away from hotels even outside the South, in Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and elsewhere.

But the worst trouble for the integrated band was in the segregated South. Even at university gigs, they required a police escort. A bomb had been thrown at a Louis Armstrong concert in Knoxville in 1957. ("That's a bomb," Armstrong quipped.)

In 1958, Brubeck's manager began to receive letters from Southern universities insisting that the Quartet drop Wright in order to perform. "We have no integration down here," the president of LSU told the San Francisco Chronicle.

"It wasn't easy," Brubeck said in 2007, recalling the sense of danger, of being sought out for music but rejected as people. "And we went through many things."

Brubeck refused to compromise. He cancelled gigs at Georgia Tech, Memphis State, and elsewhere. He took a similar stand on the Bell Telephone Hour, a musical TV program, when the producers made a similar ultimatum. "I told him that we weren't going to change," Brubeck recalled. "And, they said, 'Well, then we can't have you.' And I said, 'All right, I'm not going to do your television show.' (Later, he refused $17,000 to play in South Africa under apartheid.)

"Jazz stands for freedom," Brubeck said. For him, it also stood for loyalty and principle.

In 1960, after colleges demanded again that Brubeck substitute a white bassist for Wright, Brubeck cancelled 23 of 25 dates on a tour of Southern universities, a decision that cost the group an estimated $40,000. (The average annual U.S. income at that time was around $5,000.)

Another time, also in the South, before a gym of college students whose enthusiasm was approaching a riot, the governor and the college president came to a last-minute agreement to allow the band to play. "Now you can go on with the understanding that you'll keep Eugene Wright in the background where he can't be seen too well," the governor said to Brubeck, making sure the bassist's mic was off.

But Brubeck had other ideas: "I told Eugene," he recalled in conversation with Hedrick Smith, "You gotta come in front of the band to play your solo." The crowd went crazy.

"Nobody was against my black bass player," Brubeck said. "They cheered him like he was the greatest thing that ever happened for the students."

"We integrated the school that night."

A few years later, Brubeck told Smith, the band returned to play those same gigs with no trouble.

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